Pirates Have Reportedly Shown Interest in Melky Cabrera

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Pirates were among the teams that have shown interest in free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera. Heyman also notes that the Orioles, Marlins, Royals, and “other teams” have shown interest.

Typically, a rumor about a team showing interest in a player is about the smallest news story you can get. Every team pretty much shows some kind of interest in every player, just doing due diligence. The interesting thing here is that this rumor comes after the Pirates have traded two of their best players, and after they’ve said they are still looking to contend in 2018.

Heyman also repeats that the Pirates like Brandon Nimmo from the Mets, but that it’s hard to see the Mets parting with him for Josh Harrison. The common theme with those two rumors is that the Pirates appear to be looking for an outfielder.

If the Pirates are serious about trying to contend in 2018, then they will need an outfielder. Their current starting lineup would probably include Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and either Jordan Luplow or Adam Frazier. I expect Marte to bounce back from his down year last year, and we may have already seen him bounce back in September. Polanco is a question mark with his injury problems, although I don’t think they’ll be as extreme as last year.

For the final spot, I think they should go with Luplow and see if he can be a starter. At this point, he probably has the same or more upside than a guy like Cabrera, although that’s not a guarantee. My feeling that they should go with Luplow is paired with the feeling that they aren’t contenders, and should focus on the younger players in 2018.

Adding a guy like Cabrera wouldn’t be a bad deal as a part-time player and a backup plan in case Luplow doesn’t work out. But it would be difficult to see him taking a deal to be a backup with so many teams interested. He was replacement level last year, and has been replacement level almost every other year in recent years. He was about a 2 WAR player in the years in between, so there still could be some upside to get an outfielder that is around average.

I don’t think Cabrera’s upside is worth making him the starter and sitting Luplow. But then again, we don’t know what kind of interest the Pirates have shown. That interest could very well be that they want him to split time with Luplow, or that they want him as a backup.

The takeaway with the Cabrera and Nimmo rumors is that the Pirates appear to be looking at outfielders.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

97 losses.


As a pirates GM, I look at melky as someone I can afford. As a pirates fan, I see melky as a crap shoot that we’ve unfortunately had to get used to. Now this could work, but it’s very unlikely. The pirates have a tendency to trade good value for cheap players that can play right now that aren’t that good. In this they expect that player to somehow improve from their historical stats the moment they come to Pittsburgh. For example, Jon niese trade. Or the famous Happ trade.
As a GM, I like cargo, as a fan, I really like cargo, but also as a GM I don’t want to spend that money and we don’t want to give up prospects. So what do we do? Spend the money on a melky and hope for a Happ. it’s not so much about the good stats or the center field pieces. It’s about the money.

Brian Bernard

Cmon Jose Osuna is the lead guy for left. Great arm, and all the power just needs the reps.
Other young pups can wait there turn.


Unrelated to Melky, some project at Baseball Prospectus seems to suggest Trevor Williams is already a solid mid-rotation arm with TOR upside. I’m skeptical, but the fact that he has the best command of anyone the evaluation evaluated to have “power” stuff is awfully encouraging.



That was interesting. Regarding Williams and the coaching staff stuff. Thank you.


George Hendrick and Sixto Lexcano are both available….


Why? Is the FO still delusional and still insists the Pirates can compete in 2018? Yes, lets sign a former cheater – and block the young players from ABs and playing time.


Matt Joyce is my pick. Melky is another example of treading water.


This reeks of a Littlefield-type move where they sign an older Band-Aid in favor of a young guy to try to tell the public they are contending.

joe s

If they sign he I think he might be their highest paid player and a part-timer to boot.

Todd Tomasic

Cargo will end up in a bigger market playing for a team that will actually pay
him. Melky is really bad defensively. They do need someone who can play CF
in a pinch & spot Luplow. And if he doesn’t work out Meadows will get his shot


Why can’t this say Pirates showing interest in Lance Lynn?

Blaine Huff

If we’re going for a bridge to Meadows, my vote is for Werth. if he’s healthy, he has value and should come on the extreme cheap.


He might have to accept a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite so there definitely could be value to be had there. Another option along those lines of thought would be Jose Bautista but payroll dipped enough that 3-5 million for a true 4th outfielder isnt unreasonable.


Pedro. Go big, baby!


Luckily, for once, the Pirates literally sign no one they “have interest in”. Enjoy your time with the Orioles Melky.


If the Pirates did get him they would need to get one more guy that has been suspended to have an all performance enhanced OF.


Don’t take that as a hint, Gregory!!


Why not trade some of our minor league pitching depth for another team’s minor league outfield depth. This makes too much sense, as Tim has pointed out numerous times how our pitching depth is preventing some pitchers from starting in AA and AAA. Deal from a point of depth. No thanks to the older players out there on the free agent market unless you are talking about CarGo or Gomez.


Orrr sign/trade for thirty seven additional relievers and make that AA/AAA even worse.



I’d be interested in Jon Jay. More of a utility outfielder, gives you insurance in all three spots( Marte, Polanco, Luplow) if any need days off/injured. But when all three are healthy and playing Jay provides a good backup.


I agree that this team is likely not going to contend this year so see what you have in Luplow although in reality, he’s unlikely the answer for them in the OF anyway. The chances are slim that he ends up a long term starter. Even if all goes right for him, if meadows rights his ship, Luplow gets pushed to the bench anyway. But then again, they’ll be getting itchy to start shopping Marte in a couple of years as he approaches 2 years from the end of his K.


One theme I see is that they are trying to fill holes in their major league roster via these trades vs. signing free agents — or at least free agents who aren’t waiver-type claims. Fill holes while cutting costs — that’s what comes through as the #1 objective for the off season.


I hate articles like this. I would rather not have any new articles than the endless rehashing of some “insiders” Tweet. All of the sites do it, but it is really nothing more than empty filler.


I know it pains you to read bad things about Huntington, but Tim deserves credit for not just rehashing a rumor but for specifically placing it in the context of what appears to be a strategy forming to fill an outfield role.


I’d be for signing him as long as it wasn’t the only move they made. They’re close to being a .500 team so adding an OF and a solid SP might push them over that .500 mark. If they get in that range and then a couple things go right… Marte returns to normal, Taillon reaches potential, or a couple things along those lines… and they’re actually a contender.

If this is would be a lone move I think it would look more like the Pirates trying to appease some of their critics (and probably the MLBPA as well).


Cargo or stick w Luplow

Bill W

We had a pretty good outfielder.

Joe S

I wonder if NH is examining a Matt Kemp deal where we take $16MM or so AND a nice Dodger prospect or two for nothing

IC Bob

Nice dream here. We are not taking on any bad contracts. Many years ago NH use to discuss crating a good defensive team to help out pitching. Now we don’t even pretend to having any good defenders and now Melky who cant play anywhere


That would make far too much sense.


Cervelli and cash for Kemp, Grandal, and prospect(s).


Dear god no Kemp. He’s a DH.


You’re not getting him to actually play baseball games…

But at the same time, are we already forgetting that Huntington trotted out what was left of Corey Hart’s functional body for a bunch of games a couple years ago?


Kemp and one prospect from 5-10 on the dodger list for PTBNL. That’s the only way I could see the dodgers possibly making a trade


If we’re taking Kemp, we get Kiebert Ruiz, catcher, number 52 prospect on top 100. We give up cash and a 10-15 level prospect.


While that would be nice to get a top catching prospect, Kemp is owed at least 45 million (can’t remember how much). We already are a small market team who puts a hard cap on our payroll, is getting one prospect worth 20 plus million a year? The team salary has to be around 80 million so far. That would mean we can’t sign anyone else this year without dumping someone. I don’t think one prospect is worth that kind of money based on our salary constrictions


Interesting read and take on ownership in baseball.


Make the trade, but then release Kemp. You get the prospect and the team does not have to deal with him.


Team still has to pay him though. Just means another team picks him up for league minimum and Pirates cover the rest of his guaranteed contract.


True. The prospect is what you want though – even if that’s possible. Somewhat of a pipe dream, IMO.


this would be fun


How about Jon Jay can and does play ALL outfield positions??

Best days behind him but can play 1 year full time and 2nd year as backup if needed to sign him.



Given enough time every Pirate GM becomes Dave Littlefield.


…or do they all become Cam Bonifay?


Carlos Gonzalez makes the most sense. If he rebounds and the team doesn’t perform well you flip him. NH doesn’t seem to understand that aspect of the appeal with big free agents sign them to 4 years + then flip them after year 2 when they start getting expensive for assets. He’s always worried about “offending” veterans and said before that “players will catch on” (when it came to playing young kids over veterans). I say who cares? Not like you get free agents to come here consistently anyhow. And if that’s a major concern for a FA then give them a no trade clause if you really want them. But we know they will never sign someone like that anyways.


I’ve been saying Cargo would be awesome since it became likely we’d trade Cutch. Power .. can play all three OF positions .. likely not too expensive. John Jay is 2nd option.
I’d also like to see us take a chance on Tillman. Tillman with Uncle Ray magic and Cargo have us back in the playoff hunt


Have you looked at his stats away from Denver or at PNC. Not pretty is an understatement.


His home road splits are extremely dramatic. I don’t think the upside is quite there.


it’s been shown that having home games in Coors actually screws with hitters when theyre on the road. players who leave COL end up hitting better than what their road splits in COL had been.


You can’t ignore a sample size of 2000 AB along with declining skills and production. Perhapsv5 years earlier it was worth the risk, not now.


oh yeah i’m hardly advocating for CarGo. He’d be good in a Matt Joyce role, but that’s as far as i’d be willing to go.

Just pointing out the reality about leaving Coors.


I’d definitely anticipate him hitting better but it’s a big gap to make up. His road OPS last year was .606.


I’m happy w either of the Cargos. I do lean towards Gomez because his CF game is solid and the O is good as well. I do think Gonzalez will have a big rebound at the plate and will only require a single year commitment.


Agreed. he’s the best fit. Best combination of decent defense and offense that you can dream on.

Scott H

And now that Cole is gone, we don’t have to worry about any fights in the clubhouse…


Good call forgot that Jordy might not be Keen on Gomez


Got Melky. I’d like to strike the got and replace with not.


I can’t find the article but I read from somewhere that Huntington wants Luplow to start the season at AAA though.


Melky “frickin” Cabrera?????????????????????????? Sorry, I did not even bother to read the article. Can we re-sign John Jaso? Harrison and Rodriguez have both played the OF, and Luplow, Osuna, Frazier, Meadows, etc. I do not want to compete in 2018 that badly.


Jaso is happily roaming the shores of St Pete Beach with his hot wife. She has dreads too.


Me neither. I’d rather give Luplow those ABs, but that’s what Huntington said IIRC. But I think it was pre-Cutch trade so could be different now.

Eric Marshall

would 100% agree here. If Luplow can produce like he did in the minors… that is how we compete in 18. Need a lot of things breaking right to be competitive in 18.

Devin J

Don’t understand this. Why not target someone who can play center? Who the hell plays center when Marte isn’t oh there?


exactly. to go into a season claiming to want to contend, but with one guy who can play CF, would be ridiculous. that’d almost make me more more mad than any other thing theyve done lately haha.

it’d be one thing if they were hard against their ~100 million dollar cap. but they’re at 80 right now. they have 20 million to spend. there’s no excuse.

like… give Carlos Gomez or Jarrod Dyson a 1 yr, 12 million dollar deal. that’s an overpay, but who cares? it’s a 1 year deal and you’re still under your payroll ceiling.


You are assuming they have a hundred million dollar cap. Attendance was down last year. The cap may only be 85MM.


They were prepared to go into the season at 100M supposedly before the trades. The have money to spend.

Eric Marshall

Do either of them want to ride the bench? I doubt they sign to be that backup center fielder because those are so very valuable. Nobody has a strong center fielder and a strong center fielder just sitting there waiting in case number 1 gets hurt. Dyson isn’t worth half what you are talking… we need bats not people who can run down a fly ball.


well… Dyson’s bat isn’t THAT bad.

he’s averaged 2.5 WAR per 300 PA since 2013.

and i’m proposing that those two guys be the starting LF (or Marte move back to left for one of them), with Luplow seasoning more in AAA, which wouldnt be the end of the world.

Eric Marshall

right. career 258 avg and sub 700 ops hitter is worth 2.5 WAR? Would love to see how that gets measured. He had 1 up year in 16 but other than that he has been terrible and guys like you would run him out of town… especially making top 2 or 3 salary on the team. Also, why would we look to give Luplow time in 19 when Meadows should be ready and we are seriously looking to content. Makes little sense.

Eric Marshall

Also, Dyson hasn’t played more than 120 games in a season during his career. If we plan to seriously contend in 19 and this year if all breaks right… Luplow should be getting the time because him breaking right is part of how we contend this year… not having a 258 avg, sub 700 OPS never over 5 home run guy in our outfield.


okay. it’s clear that we fundamentally disagree on the value of defense, and that’s fine!

maybe Carlos Gomez would be a fine compromise?


Hurdle used the defense rationale to keep playing Barmes, but difference between him & Mercer on D wasn’t worth watching one of the worst hitters I have ever seen. If Cabrera, Dyson or Gomez is signed for even a 1 year deal, Hurdle will run him out there everyday & we will never know what the young guys are capable of becoming.


right. Barmes was a .600 OPS guy. that was bad.

Dyson, if playing only against righties, is a .730 OPS guy.

apples and oranges.

Gomez is better at offense and worse at defense. he’d be fine.

Cabrera isnt really good at anything.

but yeah, you’re going to fundamentally disagree with me if you don’t agree with the statement of “Luplow getting some actual time in AAA would not be a bad thing”


It wouldn’t be a bad thing if we had a manager who wouldn’t take a Melky & run him out there everyday for the whole year. Hurdle screwing things up was the basis of my post


okay, got ya.

Melky being thrown out there every day would be a problem. he is an awful defender and isn’t a good enough hitter to outweigh it.

i dont think Dyson or Gomez playing every day would be a problem, as long as Luplow was getting everyday ABs with Indy.

Eric Marshall

So if Marte gets hurt… who plays vs. lefties? Kind of defeats your whole argument. Gomez i could agree with but Dyson playing a corner spot will be negative WAR out of the gate and CF against lefties would be negative WAR as well.


Adam Frazier hits lefties well and so does Osuna so those would be options. Plus SRod and his career .756 OPS vs Lefties.


No need to worry about Marte getting hurt. The FO will go right out and find a replacement for him. 🙁


“Dyson playing a corner spot will be negative WAR out of the gate” – that’s not how that works.

but you’re right about CF vs lefties being an issue if Marte gets hurt! i might have just become more firmly in camp Gomez!

but it’s not like there’s a solution for that *now*


They’re walking such a fine line I don’t think they have the luxury to say “what if Marte gets hurt”.

If Marte is out a significant amount of time they’re probably toast anyway.

Eric Marshall

If they had Gomez i think they could still compete. With Dyson… not so much.

Eric Marshall

Where did we fall that year? Was it pitching, hitting etc? Without Kang and Marte we couldn’t score runs. This is with a weak center fielder and guys like Osuna and Frazier playing the outfield. To suggest that we need to lower our offense and just say we disagree on value of defense… i wouldn’t agree. We need more offense.


a run saved is just as good as a run scored 🙂

They failed at a lot of things. There was bad outfield defense *and* bad outfield offense.

they need to be better at both things. i just want good players.

my argument is that they need a player with CF chops for if Marte gets hurt. That leaves Gomez and Dyson as the only semi interesting FA options.

if you dont think they need a CF, then obviously you wont be as focused on Dyson and Gomez as i am.

You’d be interested in higher-offense corner guys. makes sense.

Eric Marshall

Gomez i could see a little more.


as a pure 4th outfielder who pinch hits a lot, and doesnt take the field a lot? sure!

as a starting left fielder? puke.

Car Gomez and Jarrod Dyson make the most sense because they can play centerfield. If marte gets a HBP on the hand and is out for 2 months, we’d be watching Polanco, Frazier, or SeanRod in CF. gross.

it’s a little disappointing that all of the OF rumors… Nimmo and Melky… are guys without CF chops (and Melky doesnt even have LF chops… which is the *real* problem with signing him)

TLDR: i’d rather watch Luplow be the starting LF than Melky. I’d rather watch Carlos Gomez or Jarrod Dyson be the starting LF than Luplow (Or have them in CF with Marte in LF. whatevs.).

it wouldnt be the worst thing in the world if Luplow got more than 200 PA in AAA. He only had 300 PA in AA too.


Carlos Gomez is a really good player. He gets labeled as an a-hole but he is a fiery dude and he stands up for his principles. He would at least make things interesting on a team that probably won’t win a lot. He’s gonna go to a winner though I would guess and I don’t see Pirates paying for a 2+ WAR player. Weirdest offseason ever. Not only for the Pirates but the league in general. So many guys still unsigned. I’m sure the MLBPA is preparing their collusion case as we speak.


i dont think the pirates are that bad.

signing the right guy or two for $20 million puts this team right back into the mish mash of 2nd Wildcard teams. the computers see them as a 78 win team right now. Get back into the low 80s, and that gives you a *shot*

most of the teams better than the Pirates are either 1) out of money, or 2) don’t need an outfielder

The pirates have a good mix of money to spend, need in the outfield, and not being an awful team.

Also, there’s no way Gomez is getting paid like a 2 WAR player.

Also, i’m not really sold on any collusion happening. there have only been like two FA signings where i’ve been like “man. that was really good value for the team”… Avila and Addison Reed. There havent been a lot of signings, but the signings that have happened have been pretty fair for the players.


Yes, we need someone who can provide strong defense in CF in case Marte gets hurt or simply to give him a day off once a week. It would also allow Hurdle to do some double switches late in games to provide stronger defense.

The tricky thing is a guy like Dyson, who would be my top choice, will want to sign where he can be the starting CF and I’d rather see Marte in CF with Luplow getting the bulk of playing time in LF. Would Dyson sign if he might only get 3-4 starts a week as part of a rotation in the OF? (Of course he would also know that there is a high probability of Marte missing time at some point in the season.)


Right now I would consider playing S-Rod in CF if Marte got hurt. Sadly or maybe not. In small samples he has been a good CF and OF in general. SRod or Polanco might be a coin flipper.

Eric Marshall

Personally i don’t see why all the love for Dyson. He is 33 years old, slowing down, career 258 avg hitter, career below 700 ops hitter. just makes zero sense to play someone like that over luplow yet alone pay him 10+M.


MLBTR predicted that he’d sign for about $6M per year, so I’m not sure if your 10+M refers to a 2-year deal but it seems to overstate what we’d be spending.

As an example of how he could fit, the Steamer projection has him worth 1.3 WAR in 82 games. That’s a decent 4th OF option, and we need a quality 4th OF given Marte’s and Polanco’s injury histories and Luplow’s inexperience. Lots of question marks.

Eric Marshall

That is much more rationalized. I was responding and carrying forward JayGray’s suggestion of paying him 12 million to start this year… that to me makes no sense. For 6 million and expectation of being a backup who can pinch run and be a defensive replacement late in games… i can see that being positive.


yeah, dyson will probably be less expensive than Gomez.

my main point was that they have the payroll room do overpay someone on a one year deal

Eric Marshall

I understand what you are trying to do. But having Dyson on the team other than backup center field in case Marte gets hurt is a negative WAR out of the gate… and only positive in CF against Righties. Do we over pay for something like that? Go get Gomez if we are really concerned about current outfield.




…and while Dyson will be 34 soon he still is faster than 99% of the league.

Michael Sanders

I have the Dyson Animal. Sucks up all of the cat hair. Go get it NH. Clean house!


that’s when you need to ask yourself… “would it be the end of the world if Luplow got more AAA seasoning?”

Pirates Prospects Daily



Latest articles

Latest comments